When I read Star Trek: Into Darkness screenwriter Damon Lindelof’s reaction today to criticism of the film’s gratuitous sexy-underwear scene, it struck me for how right it was — and how rare such reactions are. Reviewer Jill Pantozzi, writing at TheNerdyBird.com, chastised the movie’s treatment of Alice Eve, who plays Dr. Carol Marcus: “Suffice to say, her purpose in the film was minimal and they made her stand around in underwear for absolutely no reason. We didn’t even see an actual display of the intelligence she was touted to have.” Lindelof apologized via Twitter: “I copped to the fact that we should have done a better job of not being gratuitous in our representation of a barely clothed actress … We also had Kirk shirtless in underpants in both movies. Do not want to make light of something that some construe has misogynistic …What I’m saying is I hear you, I take full responsibility, and will be more mindful in the future.”
Maybe I’m giving Lindelof too much credit because I have talked to him before and like him as well as his work on Lost. But I felt like he was genuinely taking responsibility and had learned something he may then apply in future films; this is the exact reason we take to blogs to criticize sexism in media. We’re not trying to be mean or take all the fun out of entertainment; we’re trying to raise consciousness to effect change. Lindelof didn’t make jokes or brush it off or accuse feminists of being lame. He did have that extremely typical (and I understand why) reaction: We did it to men in the film, too! While I’ve written posts before criticizing the objectification of men — nope, that’s not okay, either — it’s important for men in Hollywood to understand that it’s absolutely not the same. Women have been objectified to the point of widespread and systemic violence for a great deal of human history. Men have not, so it’s much more serious when we do it to women.
That said, he got the reaction correct overall. We need more male filmmakers and TV producers to do that, and to genuinely take the criticism to heart. If we all see this as a learning process, we can see real progress over time.